Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Lair by Emily McKay

In the battle against the vampiric Ticks, humanity was slowly but certainly headed for extinction. For months, twin sisters Lily and Mel had been "quarantined” with thousands of other young people being harvested for their blood—food for the Ticks. Finally escaping with a few friends, the twins are separated—and must continue the fight on their own . . .

After making it to a resistance base camp in Utah, Lily learned to survive at all costs. But when a Tick attack decimates the fighters, Lily and her pregnant friend, McKenna, decide to make the hard trek north to Canada—and safety.

Meanwhile, Mel is being taught how to survive by the very vampire that turned her. Living without her sister is hard, but dealing with the fact that her autism was cured by the vampire bite is an even bigger challenge.

But when a monstrous betrayal places Lily in mortal danger, Mel must set out to find her, save her, and begin to unravel the empire of destruction that the Ticks have built. (from GoodReads)

I feel like this trilogy is really underappreciated. It's kind of one of those hidden gems and gets lost among the plethora of paranormal and vampire novels that are flooding the market. I know vampires are pretty passé right now but The Farm and The Lair surprisingly breathe new life into this genre.

What makes The Farm Trilogy so interesting is that it combines paranormal and post-apocalyptic elements to create a new type of story. And not only are there vampires, but there are ticks, which are vampire/zombie hybrids and are pretty frightening when you think about it. When you start the books you'll be overwhelmed by all the new terminology and all the different plots going on, but it all weaves together so wonderfully and you get a great story out of all it.

The Lair is similar to its predecessor in that it changes points-of-view between Lily, Mel and Carter. What confused me slightly was that the narration for Mel and Carter is first person while Lily's chapters are third-person. No idea why that is. Regardless, I enjoyed getting the different perspectives especially since at some points all three are own their own. So we get even more story!

Another qualm I had about the novel was I'm not sure what year it's supposed to be. I'm guessing around 2012-2013? I only say this because the author makes some really current references, like the Seal Team 6 killing Osama bin Laden and One Direction. I'm not sure if they fit on the timeline or not. But it's obviously not a huge deal in the big picture.

The Lair is full of twists, turns, action, fear, sadness and hope. Some of the twists I predicted and some I did not expect at all. I enjoyed being surprised at those points. Honestly, I think Emily McKay is just telling a really good story and I can't wait to see what happens next. I hope she writes the last book quickly; I don't know if I'll be able to wait another year!

Rating: 10 out 10.
FTC: sent copy from publisher

2013/Berkley Trade/432 pages

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 163

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

17838475A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own? (from GoodReads)

This sounds so creepy! I know Kimberly Derting will do the plot justice because she's so good at writing the spooky Body Finder series. The Taking will be released April 29, 2014.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 109

Top Ten Tuesday was started by Breaking the Spine for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to Reluctant Readers

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is one of those books that anyone can enjoy - my dad and brother even like this series! A lot of people that don't read frequently have picked up The Hunger Games which shows how universal these books are!

2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is a fantastic writer and her books really draw you in, which is good for those that don't like to read.

3. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
This book is so funny, you don't even realize you're reading.

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Even though it was written in the 1920s, the language is pretty easy to understand and the themes are timeless. This is my sister's favorite book and she doesn't like to read.

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent is very exciting and fast-paced. And since it's about to be made into a movie, there's extra incentive to get a reluctant reader to pick it up.

6. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
For those that like something scary, Lois Duncan's novels are perfect. They're super short too.

7. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
If you haven't seen the movie yet (or even if you have) this book is a great recommendation. It's a fun read and everyone loves the drama that comes with secret affairs.

8. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
This a cute romantic contemporary novel. Plus it's set in New York City - can't get much better than that.

9. Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
For those looking for an interesting beach read.

10. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
For those that want some light historical fiction. This series is like Gossip Girl set in the turn of the century.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be. (from GoodReads)

I love London so of course I'm going to pick up a book that is set here! Plus, romance and cute boys? Sign me up! I thought Meant to Be was a cute and fun story that anyone can enjoy.

Obviously I was first drawn in by the wonderful city of London. Since I've been there before, it was nice to revisit all the famous landmarks and tourist attractions that I saw. I would love to go back and I did for a time while reading Meant to Be.

Julia is an interesting protagonist, in that she's not the most likeable. She gets better in the end, but throughout the book she is set on finding her "meant to be" aka her soulmate. Julia uses her parents' supposedly perfect marriage as her guide to finding a boyfriend. This is problematic since her father died when she was about eight, so the memories of her family are definitely colored. Luckily she learns that no relationship or person is perfect and that will help her in the long-run.

Even though Jason could be pretty immature, I still enjoyed reading about him and seeing his and Julia's relationship develop. In the beginning they hated each other, but London brings them together. I was flying through the pages to see what would happen next.

Some of the aspects were a tad unrealistic. The students had way too many "cultural hours" (aka free time) on this trip and they each had their own hotel rooms! It is explained that their teacher knows the owner of this hotel but still. I loved that Julia is a swimmer (as am I) but would someone who won States in two events really go on a trip in the middle of her swim season (even though most swim seasons are finished by Spring Break, which is when this trip takes place)? I'm obviously nitpicking, but those were some things I was thinking about while reading.

Regardless, I still really enjoyed Meant to Be. The romance is cute, London is awesome and there's even some life lessons thrown in there. If you're looking for something light, make sure you check this out.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Delacorte/304 pages.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 162

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

18465577A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them. (from GoodReads)

I can't say no to a modern day retelling of Peter Pan! Second Star will be released May 13, 2014.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 108

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

1. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis - I'm not sure what happened with this cover. The one for Across the Universe is absolutely gorgeous, with so many colors and the silhouettes. This is pretty ugly.

2. All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin - This is the paperback cover (and the sequels are designed in the same vein). I'm just not a fan. It looks too futuristic, like the cover is trying too hard.

3. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowing - So boring! Especially after the beautifully illustrated HP covers.

4. The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore - Not really a fan of the purple rose.

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - I don't like this redesigned cover as much as the original. The face of a girl staring at the camera is always used - it's so boring!

6. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - The original wasn't amazing but I seriously don't like this one. Why is she wearing eyeliner?!? There was definitely no makeup in this post-apocalyptic world.

7. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - This doesn't match the first two in the trilogy so I'm not quite sure what to make it. I would definitely redesign to fit with the others.

8. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer - The model's pose is so awkward and I'm not a fan of the green or the huge moon.
Wolfsbane (Nightshade, #2) 
9. Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill - I'm currently reading Meant To Be and the cover doesn't capture the awesomeness of London. How can you not have a picture of a double decker or something?!

10. Sever by Lauren DeStefano - I hate the background; it looks like a green screen. The model is posed too perfectly. I don't understand how the cover for Wither is so neat while this looks incredibly staged.

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)

Monday, November 11, 2013

An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media by Joe Muto

The "Fox Mole" - whose dispatches for Gawker made headlines in Businessweek, The Hollywood Reporter, and even on The New York Times website—delivers a funny, opinionated memoir of his eight years at the Fox News Channel working as an associate producer for Bill O'Reilly.

Imagine needing to hide your true beliefs just to keep a job you hated. Now imagine your job was producing the biggest show on the biggest cable news channel in America, and you’ll get a sense of what life was like for Joe Muto. As a self-professed bleeding-heart, godless liberal, Joe’s viewpoints clearly didn’t mesh with his employer—especially his direct supervisor, Bill O’Reilly.

So he did what any ambitious, career-driven person would do. He destroyed his career, spectacularly. He became Gawker’s so-called Fox Mole.

Joe’s posts on Gawker garnered more than 2.5 million hits in one week. He released footage and information that Fox News never wanted exposed, including some extremely unflattering footage of Mitt Romney. The dragnet closed around him quickly—he was fired within thirty-six hours—so his best material never made it online. Unfortunate for his career as the Fox Mole, but a treasure trove for book readers.

An Atheist in the FOXhole has everything that liberals and Fox haters could desire: details about how Fox’s right-wing ideology is promoted throughout the channel; why specific angles and personalities are the only ones broadcasted; the bizarre stories Fox anchors actually believed (and passed on to the public); and tales of behind-the-scenes mayhem and mistakes, all part of reporting Fox’s version of the news. (from GoodReads)

I followed the Fox mole story on Gawker over a year ago and I've been waiting ever since for this book to be published. I always wondered what it would be like to work for an organization whose values are not your own - and now I get a firsthand account. I was surprised that much of the book isn't ideological, but rather stories on how a television empire is produced.

I firmly believe that anyone can enjoy An Atheist in a FOXhole, regardless of your political beliefs. The book is more about our intrepid storyteller's life mixed with anecdotes and explanations of how Fox works. I was fascinated by how a television channel is run and what makes Fox different. It's definitely a team effort and since TV is so fast-paced, the work is often done seconds before it's aired live. The most interesting thing was that Fox used videotapes for everything up until a few years ago. For an organization that makes so much money you'd think they would have top of the line equipment.

I still think it's so crazy that Joe Muto worked for Bill O'Reilly - whether you like him or not, The O'Reilly Factor is the number one cable news show. That's pretty cool that our author was one of the people who pitched ideas and stories to O'Reilly and directly influenced what was on his show each  night.

You can tell that Joe Muto has some writing experience, especially since he's able to weave together the narration of the past and "present day," which is when he was caught at the mole. Some of his writing is a little over-the-top but I was still surprised that he was able to remember so many stories and encounters while working at Fox.

Honestly, if you're interested in tv or film and want to know how the inside is run, you should definitely check out this book. It's so fascinating and you get a pretty great story on top of it.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library

2013/Dutton/323 pages

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 161

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all. (from GoodReads)

I love the premise of this novel. It has the potential to be hilarious and for some great self-reflection. It's always interesting to look back on past crushes. To All the Boys I've Loved Before will be released April 22, 2014.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 107

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On

1. Witchfall by Victoria Lamb
Since I just finished Witchstruck I'm ready to continue the story! I need to know what evil entity is lurking around the corner and I want to read more about Alejandro!

2. Vengeance by Megan Miranda
Fracture has been out for awhile now, but I'm so glad the author decided to write a sequel. The premise is so interesting: a girl can tell when someone's going to die. Creepy!

3. Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita
I have never been so excited for a book. Sleepaway Girls is one of my favorite summer books and now we get a sequel?! I don't know how I'll be able to wait until the spring.

4. Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
I really enjoyed The Madman's Daughter and can't wait to see what happens next!

5. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
I read Just One Day in about a day so obviously I need this story too. Gayle Forman never disappoints.

6. UnSouled by Neal Shusterman
This is such a good (albeit underrated) dystopian series. Can't wait for the third book to finish out the trilogy.

7. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes
I read the fantasy Falling Kingdoms almost a year ago so I'm ready for the sequel!

8. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I love these books and need another cute romantic comedy in my life.

9. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
This has already been released and I feel so bad that I haven't read it yet. I'm hoping to get a copy for Christmas.

10. Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton
Another already released book. I'm so behind on reading.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned. If she float, she be a witch and must be hanged.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different; that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practice witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne. With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice. The Secret Circle meets The Other Boleyn Girl in Witchstruck, the first book of the magical Tudor Witch trilogy. (From GoodReads)

I am obsessed with the Tudors and will pretty much read anything I can get my hands on if it's about this famous family. Sometimes what I read isn't that great, but luckily I really enjoyed Witchstruck!

What's fun about Witchstruck is that it isn't just plain historical fiction. Meg is a witch, so there's fantastical elements too, which made the story more interesting. I liked the twist on the original story. Meg tries to use her powers to help Elizabeth because she wants to see her on the throne. Since witchcraft is illegal there's the added suspense if Meg is going to be caught and what will happen afterwards.

My favorite part of the novel was Meg's relationship with the soon-to-be Spanish priest Alejandro. Their relationship was a tad unrealistic but the forbidden nature of it made it hard to resist. Not only is Alejandro about to be a priest there's also another secret preventing him from getting too close to Meg. I'm curious to see how these two beat the odds in order to pursue a relationship. Unfortunately the odds aren't in their favor.

Even though I had a lot of fun reading Witchstruck, it had its flaws too. Meg was a little too careless using her magic and there were many times that she was almost caught. She should have had more discretion. The characters, including Elizabeth, Alejandro and Meg could have been developed more and that goes the same for Meg and Alejandro's relationship.

Overall I am looking forward to the next book in the trilogy! It's an exciting story and I want to find out what evil is lurking and if Elizabeth will ever get to be queen (though I think we know how that turns out).

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: received copy from author

2013/Harlequin Teen/320 pages